Jagath Dias

30.10.2011 ( Last modified: 31.10.2019 )

In 2008-2009, Mr Dias was the Major General of the 57th Division of the Sri Lankan army, tasked with attacking the Tamil Tigers during the final offensive against the rebel group. In this respect, he is alleged to have committed serious violations of the law of war. It is alleged that, from December 2008 to January 2009, the town of Kilinochchi was relentlessly shelled by his troops, destroying the entire infrastructure, including a hospital, and forcing tens of thousands of civilians into exile. It is also alleged that the 57th Division was involved in the bombardment of areas that had been defined as “no fire zones” and, therefore, supposedly safe zones for civilians, causing a veritable blood bath.

In September 2009, Jagath Dias was appointed Deputy-Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Switzerland, Germany and the Holy See. Based on a case put together by its partner ECCHR, TRIAL International and Société pour la protection des peuples menacés launched a campaign to get Mr Dias stripped of his diplomatic status. Faced with the passiveness of the authorities, in August 2011, the NGOs filed a criminal report against Jagath Dias before the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland.

After this campaign, Mr Dias was dismissed in early September 2011. For the very first time, a diplomat had been fired on the grounds of suspected serious violations of human rights.

In dealing with the criminal complaint, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland decided to close the case. However, it stated that it would open an investigation into the important allegations of suspected war crimes against Mr Dias if he represented himself on Swiss territory. If that were to happen, it would be the first time for a judicial authority to acknowledge the commission of war crimes by the Sri Lankan army.

 

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